Artist Interview : Camille Douch

Camille Douch creates sculptures, which inject creativity and life into the modern, industrial world in which we live.  Only recently graduating from Bath School of Art and Design, Camille’s unusual and charming approach, utilising the potential of everyday materials, from a drawing pin to autumn leaves, is enticing and refreshing.  A pin is no longer a pin, and a leaf no longer a leaf.  Her projects are luring, as she re-invents her choice of matter with such belief and honesty, that you can almost forget its original purpose.  The magic of Camille’s work is highly reliant of each piece’s relationship with the space and its surroundings, but also and the environmental and atmospheric conditions.  The effect of light reflecting off her pin pieces draws the eye; they are seductive. They have energy; they’re alive, and growing.  Camille is captivatingly confident in her approach, pushing boundaries, finding and displaying beauty in the mundane, from a staple to autumn leaves.

'Untitled', 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

'Untitled', 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

What made you decide to become an artist? Have you always been interested in art?

From an early age I was always drawing and creating elaborate monstrosities out of cereal boxes and yoghurt pots that had to be displayed at home much to the annoyance of my family! As I progressed through school, art lessons were always my favourite and I think having enthusiastic teachers and a supportive family gave me the confidence to fully explore my initial ideas about the capabilities of materials, be it paint or clay; and learn through making. Thus my passion for the arts has been ever-growing and changing with me and I know I will always gravitate back to ‘building’ as an artist however long I may break between each body of work.

Camille's Studio

Camille's Studio

You say that your practice stems from an obsession with repetition, tactility and form.  I love the fluidity of your work with drawing pins, which certainly emulate all of those areas.  What are you trying to communicate with these works?  

At first glance the work appears tantalising, the pinheads reflecting light continuously from any vantage point. The worth of the object signified through its colouring and suggestive weight. I try to engage the viewer with the materials own provocative qualities, the rounded pins and light bringing the works to life with each and every step they take. The pieces move with fluid movements like a coiling snake, powerful and pulsating.

'Untitled', 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

'Untitled', 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

Kate MccGwire’s art works in much the same way; on closer inspection the audience is able to make its own connections with her work, be it to the feathers themselves or the discernible relationship to nature. I try to engage the viewer in this way too, each site dictates the growth of the artwork in terms of scale and direction and the unquantifiable materials fulfils an overwhelming presence intended to play with the viewers emotions.

Can you tell us a little bit about your process when creating body of work?

‘I like the idea that my work is, in a primitive sense, manufactured. It illustrates a kind of reversal of the intended fate of the material. Instead of this mass-produced item being widely and individually distributed, it is amassed and (re)manufactured’ – Tara Donovan 2003

In realising an idea I find myself playing with materials much the same as I did at Nursery School, it’s organic, raw. Once I have discovered the most suitable action to assemble each work I can switch off and let the process of making begin. My actions become mechanical as I repeat a step or set of steps over and over until completion. This process separates me from the resulting work, and I feel through this act, my personality and thought have no influence on the viewer’s interpretation of the work.

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 1) - AVAILABLE

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 1)

How many pins do you use in each artwork?

Each work varies in scale, the smaller works hold anything from 400 pins whereas the largest piece I have completed holds just over 30,000 pins.

You work with notably contrasting array of materials, ranging from organic, earthy matter such as tree bark and autumn leaves, which are starkly contrasting to the industrial plastic bag and cup collections and your most recent body of work, utilising drawing pins. Where do you draw your inspirations from?

I am rarely left feeling uninspired, as every texture, colour and moment, evokes numerous compositions to draw from. My surroundings also have a huge impact on my mood and thoughts, which shows in my work. Natural materials are incredibly tactile and I feel most comfortable when playing with them. From time to time I like to re-focus on the organic and attempt to reverse their roles, and enhance their colour, surface, form.

'Untitled', Conifer Tree Bark

'Untitled', Conifer Tree Bark

I think that even when I am using man made materials, there is still a fundamental relation to the outdoors. Dead leaves, pins and staples become biological in primal sense.

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 5) - AVAILABLE

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 5)

Tara Donovan plays a huge role in the development of my practice; concerned with structure and placement, she too looks to re-manufacture a material in the most suitable way. I want to uncover the latent possibilities that are inherent in all materials, assemble them to their best advantage within any given space. Working to point of obsession with methodical repetition gives birth to work never considered before. The space too is of great importance, reminding the viewer of their surroundings is again something the artwork achieves through unwritten dialogue. Holding their own.  Other artists such as Richard Long and Goldsworthy inspire through colour and scale whilst Richard Deacons large forms and structures both simplify and engage the site.  With so many artists out there to learn from and an unimaginable number of tactile materials to work with, a lack of inspiration seems impossible!

 

'Khaos', 2012, Plastic bags and PVA glue

'Khaos', 2012, Plastic bags and PVA glue

I notice that you leave the majority of pieces ‘Untitled’.  What is the reason for this?

I struggle with titles. I want the viewers to justify the reason for the work themselves. I try to give them an alternative view to the materials they may consider tiresome. Although I want my artwork to communicate on a personal level and unearth sentiments with no previous connection, any title I give to a work inlays my personality and possible reasoning to be read by others.

Untitled, 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

'Untitled', 2012, Brass Drawing Pins

 

You mention that your work “attempts to challenge the way in which we view the everyday”.  How do you go about “re-manufacturing the manufactured”?

Re-manufacturing is a term I use because it is mechanic, detached, monotonous. Once my initial ideas are realised, the act of making my work becomes impersonal. Some will argue otherwise but I believe my process of working separates me from what I build and in turn allows an organic form to represent itself.

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 3) - AVAILABLE

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 3)

 

What has been the best advice you have received as an artist?

Free your mind, never be afraid of the unknown’ –a cherished tutor wrote this phrase in one of my sketchbooks and I have revisited it many times since. It takes great confidence to make an artwork, to develop it and share it with others. If you are too careful and concise the work may never grow and blossom. You have to free yourself from the known, forget the rules and challenge all boundaries.

'Untitled', 2012, Chopped Conifer Tree Trunk and Brass Drawing Pins

'Untitled', 2012, Chopped Conifer Tree Trunk and Brass Drawing Pins

And to finish, what can we expect to see from you in the future?

I am currently working with other manmade materials in response to the pin works, attempting to capture the beauty within the mundane and challenge the viewers conceived concepts of a material and its given qualities both as a singular and amassed. I am hoping to exhibit these works later in the year and work alongside other likeminded artists for group exhibitions.

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 4) - AVAILABLE

Camille Douch - Untitled (Pins, Series 2, No. 4)

For more of Camille’s work, see her Portfolio on our website. http://www.antlersgallery.com/artist/camille-douch

Words:- Rosie Buxton

Images:- Camille Douch